The EC120 Colibri helicopter was designed to replace the successful AS350 Squirrel family of helicopters. When designing a new helicopter, modern technologies were used, composite materials were widely used in the design, the technology of the fenestron screw in the tail was developed, thanks to which the EC120 became the most silent helicopter in its class.
The design of the helicopter, which was called the EC120 Colibri, began in 1990 when the French company Aerospatiale with CATIC (China National Aviation Import and Export Corporation) and Singapore Technologies Aerospace formed a joint venture for serial production and development of a promising 4-5-seater light helicopter.
The helicopter, which can satisfy military and civilian customers, was named P120L. Design work started in February 1990, the first flight of the prototype was planned for 1993, and the beginning of the supply of cars in the series for 1996.
Initially, the P120L single-engine helicopter project involved the use of a four-blade rotor propeller of the Aerospatiale type, a Fener-propeller in the tail of reduced noise and a simple ski landing gear. The design considered the use of a large number of composite materials from which the tail and rotor blades were made, as well as most of the helicopter fuselage. It is expected that the P120L will replace the AerospatialeLama and Gazelle helicopters and displace lightweight Bell Jet Ranger type helicopters in the global market. The emphasis was placed on a small noise level and a large flight range.
In this project, Aerospatiale, which performed 54 percent of the work, was initially the lead, while CATIC had 30 percent and Singapore Technologies Aerospace 16 percent. In October 1992, partners were able to sign a contract for the full-scale design of the helicopter.
The P-120L helicopter was planned to be built in two versions: the “economic” base and with improved properties for use in high altitude and heat. In the design process, the initial project went through significant changes, becoming more standard. The designers went to reduce the maximum take-off weight of the helicopter by 500 kg, installed a three-blade rotor, and made changes to the power plant.
Design work was completed mainly by 1993. Then Aerospatiale merged with the German company MBB, forming the Eurocopter concern, and the P120L helicopter changed its designation to EC120 while undergoing further changes. Eurocopter, in the new version, accounts for 61 percent of the smart workload, HAIC (Haifa Aviation and Industrial Company) owned by CATIC — 24 percent of the total workload, and 15 percent for Singapore Technologies Aerospace. The European concern was responsible for the final assembly, certification, and flight tests.
Two prototypes were built at the Eurocopter factory in the French city of Marignane. The first (F-WWPA) began to be collected in the first half of 1995, and it took off in the same year. The second (F-WWPD) prototype made its first flight on July 17, 1996. Before the start of serial production, helicopters passed tests for certification, including tests with a TurbomecaArrius2F motor, power 504hp, and cold climate testing.
- Flight Range: 735km
- Cruising speed: 233km / h
- The highest flight height: 6096m
- The highest take-off weight: 1715kg
- Cabin Height: 1.16m
- Cabin Length: 2.3m
- The greatest number of passengers: 4
- Cabin Width: 1.35m
- Height: 3.08m
- Length: 9.60m